Health Benefits of Coconut Meat

What are the health benefits of coconut meat? That’s what we’ll be reading today.

Coconut meat is that white flesh that you find inside a coconut.

Coconuts are the seeds of the Cocos nucifera plant, a tall palm that grows in the tropics. Coconuts have fibrous, brown husks that shield the meat within.

Coconut milk and coconut oil have become increasingly popular. This has left many wondering what the health benefits of coconut meat are.

In this article, we will examine coconut meat in details.

Health benefits of coconut meat
Photo Credit: Sai Enterprises

NUTRITION FACTS OF COCONUT MEAT

Coconut meat has high calorie and fat content. However, it has moderate amounts of proteins and carbs.

You’ll get the following nutrients from a cup of fresh, shredded coconut meat (1):

  • Zinc: 10 percent of the daily value
  • Iron: 11 percent of the DV
  • Potassium: 6 percent of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 13 percent of the DV
  • Copper: 44 percent of the DV
  • Selenium: 15 percent of the DV
  • Manganese: 60 percent of the DV
  • Fiber: 7g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Fat: 27g
  • Carbs: 10g
  • Protein: 3g

Coconut meat is also loaded with many important minerals, such as copper and manganese. Manganese boosts fat metabolism and enzyme function, while copper enhances cardiovascular health and bone formation (2, 3).

Fat

One of the health benefits of coconut meat is its high-fat content. More than 80 percent of the fat present in coconut meat is saturated (4).

Fats in coconut meat are mainly medium-chain triglycerides. They are readily absorbed by your small intestines and used by the body for energy production (5).

Fiber

A cup of shredded coconut will give you 7 grams of fiber. This is about 20 percent of the daily value (6).

Coconut fiber is insoluble. This means that your body does not digest it. Instead, it enhances the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract and aids bowel health.

Learn more: Perfect Gut Health

NOW TO THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF COCONUT MEAT…

It boosts cardiovascular health

One of the many health benefits of coconut meat is that they boost heart health. Coconut meat is rich in coconut oil. Coconut oil boosts HDL cholesterol and reduces LDL cholesterol. An improvement in these markers reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (7).

A 4-week study involving 91 people, saw to the administration of 50ml (1.6 ounces) of either unsalted butter, extra virgin olive oil, or extra virgin coconut oil on a daily basis. The group that was given coconut oil witnessed a significant increase in good cholesterol (HDL) compared with those who were given olive oil or butter (8).

A 2-month study involving 35 healthy adults showed that administration of a tablespoon of coconut oil (twice daily) caused a significant increase in good (HDL) cholesterol, compared with the control group (9).

In another study lasting 8 weeks, people who took up to 7 ounces of coconut milk porridge had very low levels of LDL cholesterol and high levels of HDL cholesterol compared with those who ate soymilk porridge (10).

It supports weight loss

One of the health benefits of coconut meat is that it aids weight loss.

Studies have shown that the medium-chain triglycerides that are present in coconut may promote satiety, fat burning, and calorie burning. All these supports weight loss (11, 12, 13).

Also, the high fiber content of coconut meat will make you feel full. This prevents overeating (14, 15).

A 3-month study involving 8 adults found that a daily supplement of 100g of fresh coconut caused significant weight loss, compared with peanuts or peanut oil supplement of the same amount (16).

It is important to note that the amount of MCT and coconut oil used in these studies were very large, and so it is unclear if consumption of the lesser amounts of coconut meat would have similar effects.

It boosts digestive health

Coconut is rich in fiber. This fiber bulks your stool and enhances bowel movement, thus maintaining the health of your digestive system (6, 17).

Because these fruits also have a high-fat content, they can facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E & K.

Also, the medium-chain triglycerides present in coconut meat makes our gut bacteria healthy. A healthy gut flora protects against metabolic syndrome and inflammation (18).

As a plus, coconut oil impedes the growth and development of Candida albicans and other harmful yeasts (19).

It suffices to say that one of the health benefits of coconut meat is that it improves gut health.

OTHER HEALTH BENEFITS OF COCONUT MEAT

Coconut meat has other health benefits which include:

  • Stabilization of blood sugar: Coconut meat reduces fasting blood sugar level and alters the gut flora to assist in blood sugar regulation (20, 21, 22).
  • It works as an immune booster: Coconut contains antioxidants and manganese which boosts the immune system and reduces inflammation. The medium-chain triglycerides in coconut meat have anti-fungal, tumor-suppressing, and antiviral properties (23, 24, 25, 26).
  • It improves brain and cognitive health: Coconut oil contains MCTs which serves as an alternative fuel source to glucose. This assists people with impaired brain function or memory, such as Alzheimer’s patients (27, 28).

WHAT ARE THE DOWNSIDES OF COCONUT MEAT?

The health benefits of coconut meat are numerous. However, it does have some demerits.

For one, coconut meat is high in saturated fat, and saturated fat has been surrounded by much controversy.

A study involving 115,000 adults showed that those who had a high intake of saturated fat also had an increased risk of heart disease (29).

While there is still a lot of debate on the effects of saturated fat on heart disease, research has shown that unsaturated fat may reduce the risk of heart disease in an individual (30).

There are arguments from some quarters that although coconut meat does not cause damage to the heart, most people do not eat much of it to experience any damaging effects (31).

Considering the fact that coconut may benefit the cardiovascular system as a whole, there’s a need for more research on the health benefits of coconut meat, especially on long-term heart health.

It is also important to note that coconut meat is rich in calories. If you overeat it, then there are chances of weight gain.

Finally, some people may be allergic to coconut. Coconut allergies are not common though, and not always linked with other nut allergies (32).

THE SUMMARY

Coconut meat is basically the inner white parts of coconuts. It is the coconut flesh that you eat. It can be eaten dried or fresh.

Coconut meat is rich in medium-chain triglycerides and fiber.

There are many health benefits of coconut meat. These include weight loss, improved heart health, and digestion. However, coconut meat has a high saturated fat and calorie content, so do not eat too much of it.

Coconut meat, whether dried or fresh can be used in numerous dishes, including smoothies, oatmeal, and cooked grains. Unsweetened coconut meat is one of the best additives to a balanced diet.

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